League of Municipalities says cable TV proposals do not serve public

Cable TV company bills scheduled for votes in the Legislature Thursday are drawing opposition from the N.J. League of Municipalities.

The bills, A3766 in the Assembly and S2664 in the Senate, address state regulations of cable TV, but among other things, the bills do not go far enough to protect local-access television, according to the league.

For example, the league states that the current bills reduce the obligation of a cable company to provide connections to school or municipal buildings at no charge to the municipality, and they do not require a company to provide a return feed to allow cable-casting of live municipal events.

In a release, the league points out that when the law was changed several years ago to free cable companies from having to negotiate with each municipality, “in return they would commit to provide certain services.  Cable companies should be required to continue to provide all those services.”

During an Assembly committee hearing on the Market Competition and Consumer Choice Act earlier this month, Jon Bramnick (R-21) of Westfield argued for  amendments to the bill to protect local access television.

“Local access television is a critical public service that many of our residents depend on for news, senior services and educational information,” Bramnick said.

The league said that it opposes the bills as they are now worded, and will work with lawmakers for the amendments that it believes will protect the municipalities.